Automated Image Exploitation for Unmanned Aircraft (ABUL)

© Fraunhofer IOSB
© Fraunhofer IOSB


For reconnaissance and surveillance as well as search and rescue tasks the benefits gained by invoking video equipped UAVs are evident. Via various types of data links the video data acquired by UAVs is sent to ground stations where – at the state of the art - human operators exploit the displayed video streams. In this context, Fraunhofer IOSB has developed ABUL, which is a system designed for assisting the exploitation process and to disburden the operator during critical missions.

Thereby, ABUL provides real-time optimized features for online surveillance and tactical reconnaissance as well as functionalities valuable for offline reconnaissance tasks.

Current Missions

ABUL has successfully been tested by the German ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) in Afghanistan and KFOR (Kosovo Forces) contingent and is now deployed with the LUNA UAV system in Afghanistan and by the Swiss Air Force.

Datalink Interface

ABUL is flexible regarding adaptation to different sensors and data links. It has been successfully deployed for several years with the LUNA UAV system, which is in use in the Bundeswehr (German Army), with Smaragd by EMT, Condor by OHB, and ADS 95 Ranger, which is in use in the Swiss Air force.

It is also used to exploit UAV-borne SAR and hyperspectral imagery. Due to its modularity, ABUL can be connected to any data link by replacing or adapting the data import module.

Visualization Concept

The basic concept of ABUL incorporates a dual screen system with an adaptable graphical user interface (GUI). The GUI version adapts automatically to different sensor systems, like the six sensor system carried by the UAV LUNA. The first screen shows the video window, which displays the video streams of all sensors. In addition to that, the video window provides the operator with controls that enable effective navigation within these streams and controls to enable real-time image processing and exploitation functionalities as described later on. The second screen shows the map or the exploitation window, which incorporates the display of processing results and the controls to access post processing and export functionalities as well as associated external software.


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Change detection
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Moving objects (MTI) and tracking
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Georeferenced image mosaic

Additionally to basic video stream visualization, image optimization and non-uniformity (NU) correction for infrared sensor material ABUL also incorporates highly effi cient video processing and exploiting functionalities as well as intelligent video data handling and video export features. Its modularity makes it easy to integrate any additional exploitation algorithms such as e.g. an algorithm to detect forest fi res in infrared or hyperspectral imagery.

In the following, a subset of the currently available video processing functionalities is listed:

  • Real-time connections with various current and future UAVs of the Bundeswehr
  • Live image stabilization, enhancement and optimization, zoom, and rotation
  • Fusion of several consecutive images in order to increase spatial resolution and reduce noise (superresolution)
  • Change detection
  • Image based indication of moving objects (MTI) and tracking of interactively marked objects
  • Generation of multiresolution images from images of multi-focal cameras
  • Generation of stereo images in order to provide three-dimensional insight
  • Image stitching to a geo-referenced image mosaic for a better overview
  • Live mapping of flight paths, sensor footprint and images, and other operational data on reference maps
  • Video database for searching videos by e.g. geographic regions or other attributes like time, ground resolution or tags
  • Export of exploitation products such as georeferenced image mosaics, stereo-mosaics, zoom-mosaics, super- and multiresolution images as well as short reports in various office formats.
  • Compliance of the interfaces with Coalition Shared Data (CSD) formats in order to ensure interoperability
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Live mapping
© Fraunhofer IOSB

Department VID of Fraunhofer IOSB

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Further projects of the VID department

Would you like to get to know more projects and products in the field of "video evaluation systems"? Then visit the project page of our IAS department and get more information.